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News / Clark County News

Occupy Vancouver event draws 600-700 demonstrators

Demonstration includes speeches, march; police report no problems

By Ray Legendre, Paris Achen
Published: October 14, 2011, 5:00pm
19 Photos
An estimated 700 demonstrators participated in Occupy Vancouver, first meeting at Esther Short Park and then marching through downtown Vancouver on Saturday.
An estimated 700 demonstrators participated in Occupy Vancouver, first meeting at Esther Short Park and then marching through downtown Vancouver on Saturday. Photo Gallery

The Columbian used live blogging to cover Saturday’s Occupy Vancouver protest. The event ran from noon to about 3 p.m., with a 1.5-mile march from downtown Vancouver.

2:56 p.m. – The event appears to be winding down as organizers wrap up the demonstration with a call to protestors to help clean up the park.

2:53 p.m. – The crowd has largely dispersed, with about 100 remaining in Esther Short Park. A possible second march did not happen. Protesters continue to speak at a microphone to the remaining protesters.

Police said protesters were cooperative and that no incidents were reported. Protesters are picking up cigarette butts and other trash in the park.

-Paris Achen

2:24 p.m. – Police and organizers agree to crowd estimate of 600-700.

-Steven Lane

Others estimate on Twitter that the march attracted 1,100 participants.

-Mark Bowder

2:18 p.m. – Organizers considering extending the march, though it’s not clear this will happen. Police thought the march was over.

-Steven Lane

2:09 p.m. – Latest chant: “We’re here. We’re pissed. We shouldn’t look like this.”

-Ray Legendre

2:00 p.m. – Organizers say police have estimated the crowd size of Saturday’s Occupy Vancouver demonstration and march at 600-700. Organizers say they think the number is closer to 700.

-Steven Lane

1:53 p.m. – If today’s Vancouver occupy event doesn’t have a thousand marchers it’s got to be close. Massive procession, now several blocks long, is heading back into downtown Vancouver.

-Ray Legendre

Police are blocking traffic at some points to allow protesters to pass. The march stretches from Interstate 5 to Main Street as it heads back into downtown Vancouver.

-Paris Achen

1:48 p.m. – Protesters have stopped on Evergreen Street bridge over Interstate 5 and are chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets.”

-Paris Achen

1:35 p.m. – The procession is headed east on 8th street as protesters share stories about layoffs.

-Paris Achen

1:30 p.m. – The march has begun and is headed along West 6th Street through the Washington Street intersection. They are chanting, “This is what democracy looks like.” Vehicles are honking at the procession.

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-Paris Achen

1:20 p.m. – The march begins on Columbia and passing the Hilton Vancouver Washington, chating “We are the 99 percent.”

-Ray Legendre

1:10 p.m. – One of speakers asks, “how many people here are millionaires?” Crowd laughs. March about to start shortly.

-Ray Legendre

12:43 p.m. – The crowd of protesters has grown to 450 to 500 people. Protesters include church parishioners in their 80s, a professor concerned about her students ability to use education to climb to the middle class and people calling for small revolutions, such as buying local instead of patronizing big corporate businesses.

A long line of people are waiting to speak. The march has not yet begun.

-Paris Achen

12:25 p.m. – Retired IRS auditor at #occupyvanwa: I saw first hand who runs this country, and it’s not we the people.

-Paris Achen

12:10 p.m. – The occupy march will start at 1:30 p.m., according to Reed Rotondo, one of the event’s organizers.

A few hundred people have gathered near the Esther Short Park pavilion. For the next 90 minutes, many of them will have the opportunity to speak.

“We want to give people a chance to speak and tell their stories and tell why they’re here,” Rotondo said.

Rotondo started the open mic period with a rousing speech sans microphone.

“People consider Vancouver a sleepy suburb where opinions don’t matter,” the 31-year-old said. “You’re hear to tell them that’s not true.”

The crowd erupted.

-Ray Legendre

12:08 p.m. – A crowd is gathering at Esther Short Park, with estimates by observers of approximately 300 and growing. A line is forming of demonstrators who want to address the crowd.

11:44 a.m. – It’s about a quarter of an hour before the demonstration. More than 30 people added their names to the list of attendees on Occupy Vancouver’s Facebook site over night, bringing the total number of Facebook members who plan to attend to 237.

Demonstrators are beginning to trickle into the park. – Paris Achen

11:09 a.m. – It’s less than an hour away from today’s event. There is still no defined group of demonstrators. There are people running through the park with their dogs on leashes, kids playing on swings, and a healthy crowd of adults perusing the farmer’s market’s wares. -Ray Legendre

11:05 a.m. – Tom Scharf considers himself one of the lucky ones. He only lost one-third of his savings when the recession hit.

The retired Silicon Valley engineer moved to Vancouver five years ago. Since then, he has seen several friends struggle to pay their rent and other bills.

“I have survivor’s guilt,” he said, noting he has a responsibility to lend his support to the movement.

He described today’s event as a chance for like-minded people, who are frustrated with this country’s course, to make their voices heard.

-Ray Legendre

10:31 a.m. – Two hours before Occupy Vancouver’s scheduled start, Den Mark Wichar stood across from farmer’s markets tents with a sign advocating the legalization of marijuana in Washington.

Wichar has brought the sign to other farmer’s market events. Today, he will also participate in the Occupy event.

Occupy is about dozens of issues, not just one, he said.

“We’re on the wrong path,” the 68-year-old retired science teacher said. “Not just here in this city, state, country, or hemisphere. It’s all around the world.”

He said he hoped Saturday’s Occupy Vancouver event would put the city on the map.

So far, there are few visible Occupy participants in the park. There is, however, a decent crowd at the Saturday farmer’s market.

-Ray Legendre

Organizer Dan Walker debuted a website for the movement on Oct. 8. Organizers, participants, supporters and detractors also have been communicating via Facebook and on Twitter using the #occupyvanwa hashtag.

As of Friday evening, more than 200 Facebook members had indicated on the event’s Facebook page that they plan to join the demonstration. More than 450 people “liked” the page.

There are 1,523 cities worldwide that have hosted or plan to host an “Occupy Together” demonstration to protest corporate greed, according to the Occupy Wall Street website. The movement originated in New York City last month.

Organizers had said they were concerned that releasing the map before Saturday might discourage some people from coming to the Vancouver Farmers Market, -Esther Short Park or other downtown locations, and might even enable counter protesters to impede the march or harass marchers.

Follow our coverage online, or at http:www.twitter.com/thecolumbian